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About Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin
Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Chemistry at the University of Cambridge by the age of 26. Her research at the laboratory of Kings College London contributed significantly to the discovery of the structure of DNA.

Double Helix theory

Franklin used X-ray crystallography in her research, whereas her colleague Wilkins used molecular methods. At the same time, Watson and Crick at the University of Cambridge were trying to discover the structure of DNA using a theoretical modelling approach. When they became aware of the results of Franklin’s experiments and saw her X-ray photos (unbeknownst to Franklin), they realized that they had empirical evidence for their theory of the double helix.

A shining example

Unfortunately they did not credit her in their publications. Franklin died of cancer at the age of 37, probably as a result of inadequate radiation safety measures. Had she survived, she would have undoubtedly been one of the most renowned female scientists of her generation in Europe. Today her work is a shining example to young, brilliant female academics who are interested in a career in science.

Last modified:12 September 2022 09.40 a.m.